Welcome to the next chapter of TFR!

It's been a while, and I have no excuses other than: I got a new, time-consuming job; I started my first year as a university; and I am a huge procrastinator who concentrates on too many things at the same time. I know this is a transitional chapter, but I hope to have the next written soon and ready to post when I resume my regular updating schedule in January. Now I know why it's so hard for Captain Ozone (my lovely beta) to write for her wonderful story, Heart of Gold. College is tough, man.

In this chapter, Colin is Merlin. Eddy is Percival. Eoin is Gwaine. Santiago is Lancelot. Rupert is Leon.. Bradley is Arthur. Angel is Gwen. Katie is Morgana.

Remember to check my website atimelordswife which is my TUMBLR url. I post chapter updates and some excerpts as well as all things Merlin on there.

Enjoy the chapter, and please review. I like to hear what you thought of the chapter, what you didn't like, any questions or concerns, your favorite parts, and any suggestions/comments about my writing in general.

Onto the chapter,

Erin


Chapter Sixteen
"I used to rule the world,
Seas would rise when I gave the word.
I used to roll the dice,
Feel fear in my enemies' eyes."

-"Viva La Vida" by Coldplay


"I will kill you."

Gwen's words broke through Morgana's concentration like a blinding light shining through a dense haze of fog. She looked up from the newspaper clippings spread out across the kitchen table, setting her pen down atop a notepad where she had scrawled numerous observations and thoughts down. She turned around to face her friend, a question on the tip of her tongue, when she caught sight of Arthur's sheepish figure in the entrance of the apartment. Morgana pushed herself to her feet, raising her arms above her in order to stretch out her back muscles, as she had been sitting in the same position since just after lunch, and ambled closer to the quarreling couple.

"Guinevere—" Arthur began, but the brunette shook her head, dark curls falling into her line of vision.

"You should have called ahead of time!" Gwen protested, her hands flying into the air in exasperation.

Morgana was unsure of whether or not she should rush forward to restrain her friend before she strangled her fiancé, but considering that Gwen wasn't one to lose her temper on a whim, Morgana knew her brother most likely deserved it. She leaned over the back of the couch, the leather squelching with her movements, as she watched the scene unfold, eyes alight with amusement.

Even though it had been two weeks since she had suffered through one of her most realistic visions in a millennium, it had only reinforced the need to find Morgause and Cenred. In the last fourteen days, the clues that had popped up regarding the duo's whereabouts were few to none, but Morgana's visions had continued without any delay. Night after night, she was forced to relive the murder of whoever they had chosen as their next victim, and, night after night, the prophecy of Arthur's death echoed through her mind. It had gotten to a point that she could only gather a few hours (of sleep) a night—even if she had class the next morning.

"Oi!" Morgana snapped, her voice reverberating off of the walls of the apartment—loud enough to pull Arthur and Gwen from their argument.

She grimaced, wondering what their neighbors thought of the rambunctious trio; as if on cue, a loud thud sounded as the occupants in the apartment below them pounded on the ceiling, signaling them to quiet down. Morgana rolled her eyes as she crossed her arms across her chest, shaking her head in annoyance.

Silence embraced them like a tangible shelter, and no one dared to break it until Morgana stepped forward. "Anyone want to tell me why Gwen suddenly possesses homicidal tendencies, or are you gonna leave a girl to guess?"

"This doesn't concern you, Morgana," Arthur snapped in her direction.

Gwen scoffed, her eyes flashing wildly in disbelief. "Doesn't concern her? Arthur Pendragon, this concerns just about everyone!"

Arthur shot her an apologetic smile. "I don't see why you're making a big deal of it—"

"I'm making a big deal of it? Of course I'm making a big deal of it!" Gwen huffed, raising her eyebrows with incredulity. "I only have two hours to prepare!"

Morgana chuckled lightly, once more interrupting the bickering couple. "Listen, if this is about a kinky sex escapade you two are going to try, tell me so I know when to leave." She turned on her heel and made a move to return to the kitchen when Gwen's voice cracked across the room.

"Arthur invited Merlin to dinner," the older female stated. "He is coming over here. Tonight. For some party no one knew about. And he's being an idiotic dunce and didn't tell me until now."

"It's not dinner, and it's not a party," Arthur interjected, trying to salvage his pride. "I just told him that some of the guys were coming around for drinks and poker—"

"You don't even play poker!" Gwen cried, hands flailing as she tried to prove her point. "Not to mention that you're too young to drink—"

"And when has that ever stopped me?" Arthur pressed.

"That's not the point!"

"Then tell me what is!"

"You don't understand what you're—"

"He needs familiarity to remember, and Gaius—"

"I don't give a damn what Gaius said—"

"Gwen—"

"Arthur—"

"Will you two shut up?" Morgana bellowed, striding forward until she was directly in front of her brother. "You! So help me, God, I should magic your ass into next week, Arthur Pendragon!" Her blazing emerald orbs narrowed in concentration as she leveled her gaze with the older male's. "You can't just spring something like this on us! We need time—"

"For what?" Arthur gestured towards the entrance of the apartment in exasperation. "I will personally go out and buy all the drinks and a few pizzas. You don't have to do anything to get ready!"

"Not for the party, you dick!" Morgana said, rushing forward and shoving her brother onto the leather sofa. His eyes widened in surprise as she reached for his shirt, bunching the fabric into tight fists. "We aren't ready to meet Merlin!"

Arthur was taken back, confusion lacing his features. "What do you mean?"

"Arthur, I love you, but sometimes, you can be so thick," Gwen stated as she shook her head, covering her face with her hands in exhaustion.

"I don't understand," he continued, and Morgana clenched her eyes shut, slight tremors shaking her form. "I thought—I thought you wanted to see him again… We spent all that time trying to find him, and now you can finally—"

"It's not that," Morgana whispered in a hoarse voice. She swallowed thickly, a lump caught in her throat, as she struggled to find the right words to frame her current state of mind. "I want that… more than anything. But…"

Arthur placed a hand on his younger sister's shoulders, feeling her shiver under his touch, in order to steady her. Emotions wracked her body, and he found himself at a loss at how to console her. Perhaps it was because he himself didn't understand what was wrong. However, Gwen seemed to sense her friend's distress and was able to comprehend it on a level he hadn't been able too yet. She stepped forward, kneeling beside the brother-sister duo, and placed a hesitant on Morgana's upper back. She began to rub slow, soothing circle, whispering words of comfort under her breath.

Arthur, seizing the moment, withdrew himself from Morgana's tight grip, choosing to pull her to her feet before directing her to sit beside him on the couch. Gwen seated herself adjacent to her friend, a thick sheen of tears covering her own dark eyes, and she blew out a long breath.

"Arthur," she said, "Do you remember what you were like right before you went to see Merlin for the first time?"

The blond leaned back in his seat, refusing to acknowledge his fiancée's piercing gaze. "Of course I do."

"The crushing disappointment," she continued, gesturing towards Morgana, "When you realized he didn't remember you? Imagine how the rest of us felt hearing it from you—that our friend didn't remember anything of our past or anything that he caused? He… Merlin did something to bring us back; it's the only explanation. He gave us this second chance—a chance to be better. But… he died from it, trying to save us, giving us this chance. And now he can't—"

"He can't remember," Morgana interrupted, staring at the ground, "that he gave us a second chance."

"Your father accepts me," Gwen said. "He actually helped Merlin…. He's letting you have your freedom." Arthur snorted at the example, and the dark-haired girl merely shook her head.

"And Merlin let me correct my wrongs," Morgana murmured with a tone of finality. "That's the thing, Arthur. In this life, I have a chance to go back and change everything, but I need Merlin to help change things. Why do you think when I first got my memories, I couldn't bring them up?"

"Because you thought we'd call you crazy," Arthur said.

Morgana shook her head, dragging a hand across her forehead as a stricken expression crossed her face. "No, no. I could've cared less about that. I'm a good actress, Arthur; I can hide everything and still pretend to be the same Katie you thought you knew. I did it in the past well enough, didn't I?"

"Then what worried you?"

"I kept thinking about what would happen if you two had your memories and realized that I did too," she admitted, biting her lip in hesitation. "You would know that I remembered everything: who I was and what I did. I couldn't carry that guilt. Looking at me every day, you would remember how I tried to kill Gwen and how I killed you and—"

"I don't blame you for that," Arthur said, placing a strong hand on his sister's shoulders. "That was Mordred, and even then, he was doing it in the name of love. That Druid girl who I executed… He knew her."

"He loved her," Gwen whispered under her breath, contributing the knowledge to the conversation. If possible, Morgana grew even more shamefaced, but her friend pressed on. "Arthur, you tried to set things right… You tried to make her see sense, but she was already gone. She—"

"She had already sworn loyalty to me," Morgana said. "So I caused Mordred's betrayal, and I killed you, Arthur. I forged the sword with Aithusa's help—"

"Who's Aithusa?" Arthur asked.

"No one."

"Morgana."

"A dragon."

"W-What?"

"Has anyone actually seen Mordred?" Gwen questioned, a quizzical look flashing across her face. "Did Merlin bring him back as well?"

"Please," Arthur snorted, managing a half-hearted smile. "He brought George back." Gwen's eyes widened, and she struggled to muffle her laughter over Morgana's inquisitives of the identity of "George" and Arthur's response of, "A servant, Morgana. Just an annoying servant."

"Nonetheless," Morgana stressed, "I played a part in your death, and that is something I will carry with me for the rest of my existence, regardless that we started over. The thing is, Arthur, I couldn't face you and Uther with that knowledge. You'd never treat me the same. I wouldn't be Katie anymore. I'd be this evil witch, an estranged sister and daughter. I didn't think I could handle that.

"So I went on pretending I had no idea who I was or what I was becoming. I lived in fear, just like I did in Camelot, and like I did back then, I hated every second of it! I was so afraid that you would discover me with my memories and my magic. I lived in fear of losing this life, losing my second chance! It was just like Camelot, but the only difference was that I knew I couldn't be corrupted. You see, I remember everything that I did, Arthur. I remember the anger and pain I felt when I discovered I was your sister, the happiness and blood-thirst I felt whenever I killed someone, and… the sorrow and regret I felt as I tried to fight against Morgause's magic. Her magic changed me—the Morgana talking to you right now was dead. She had been for a long time by Camlann…

"But, here, this second life allowed me to open my eyes for the first time without Morgause's influence, and I could see how lost I became, what horrors I had committed, and how quickly my sanity vanished. The reason I was corrupted so easily back then was because I was young and vulnerable, because I needed someone there to understand what I was going through. But none of that existed here. I was living with this knowledge, and eventually, I knew it would kill me, so I thought that if I dedicated my second chance to repaying the debt I owed, I could possibly convince you to open your heart to forgiveness if you ever regained your memories."

Arthur was at a loss for words. Morgana's confession of what she had faced in Camelot and in their second life caused a wave of sorrow to wash over him, pushing and pulling him like a tide. If he could have one wish, he would go back in time and make sure that his sister would never be alone and eventually succumb to Morgause's darkness. He knew that while Morgause had preyed on Morgana's fear and loneliness, the younger woman had been so eager for someone to lean on that she was hardly an obstacle for Morgause to overcome. Arthur knew that neither sister was inheritably evil to begin with, but time and hardships had caused them to become what they were. Again, he wished with all his heart that someone had been there to steer Morgana in the right direction.

In one rare moment, Arthur was disappointed in Merlin because his friend hadn't tried to help his sister.

"Anyway, eventually, I had to come clean when it all became too much. I told you that I remembered after I saw Merlin. For some reason, I needed Merlin's forgiveness most of all, and it hasn't changed. He was the one who was trying to get you to believe that magic could be a force for good, and I see that now. It's what I believed when I first found out about my magic and what Merlin tried to teach me when he discovered it too."

Immediately, glee washed over Arthur. His friend had tried to help after all. All was well again.

"All I care about is what Merlin would think and how he would feel about how I was using my second chance. In the beginning, all I kept thinking about was, 'What if Merlin had his memories?' Something told me that he caused this—all of us coming back—and I wanted him to be proud of me ...because I'm not hurting anymore. This time, I am healing. And when I finally had that vision of Merlin, it gave me hope that everything would work out. It reiterated the fact that I had a second chance, and I had the rest of my life to act on my promises. As long as I remained close to the people that I had once forsaken, everything was going to be alright. It didn't matter if you people never remembered me or what I had done or even if you had! We all had two lives, and we had two chances. You could judge me on past actions or look at what I had done to correct them. The people I had killed were alive again, and while my actions earned me isolation, I hoped that you would look at my true intentions. I hoped you would believe me when I told you that it was Morgause's spell that led me to darkness."

"Morgana," Arthur tried to interject, but she cut him off.

"But when I saw him for real on New Year's Eve, I knew I needed to be forgiven. I couldn't pretend everything would be alright anymore. So I told you… And you let me have it… But then you forgave me. After everything I had done, everything I had taken from you, you forgave me," Morgana said. "And now, so has everyone else. All I need is Merlin. I need him to forgive me, but for that to happen, I need him to remember…

"I've been pretending for so long, and now I've gotten a chance to be myself. I think I've forgotten how to pretend, and now you're asking me to go through all of that again…" Morgana raised her emerald eyes, thick with tears, to meet Arthur's apologetic gaze. "I don't know if I can."

Sighing, Arthur reached within for the strength and courage he had prided himself in always having, and he locked gazes with his sister's. "I promise you, Morgana, you will never be alone again. We're all going to be here for you. We all forgive you." Gwen gripped her friend's hand and smiled softly, nodding towards Arthur to join their interlocked hands.

Arthur smiled and nodded. "We'll pretend with you." It was like a dam had broke, and soon, Morgana was inconsolable. Arthur shot his fiancee a frantic look as his sister dissolved into tears, but the woman simply smiled before gesturing him towards the door.

"Go get your posse," Gwen said and turned her attention to her friend who was desperately choking back sobs, unable to face the couple. "I'll stay here and clean." Arthur rolled his eyes and grabbed his keys, a broad smile breaking out across his face, as he turned for the door.

"What kind of pizza do you—?"

"Just go!"

When the door finally closed behind him, Gwen pulled Morgana's hands away from her face, holding them between her own. Her friend's breath hitched and stuttered as the younger girl tried to stammer through a sentence before finally settling for taking deep breaths to calm herself. Morgana continued until her tears had dissipated, and only a faint tremble in her shoulders remained. She gathered her wits and raised her eyes to meet Gwen's with a sheepish smile, biting her lip slightly when the other woman's face became alit with amusement.

"I knew it," the older woman said, rubbing soothing circles against Morgana's upper back. "You love him, don't you?"

Morgana rolled her eyes, swiping at the skin underneath them subconsciously. "Of course, I do. Don't be stupid. He's my brother."

"I wasn't talking about Arthur."

Silence fell upon the two, and Gwen felt her friend stiffen beside her; however, after a while, Morgana shook her head and placed it in her hands. "I don't know what I feel, but—"

"But what?" Gwen asked, tilting her head in confusion.

Morgana swallowed a thick lump in her throat before raising her gaze to meet her friend's. She reached out to place a hand on the older female's shoulder and flashed her a firm smirk, locking the limp in a tight grip. "I'm going to figure this out… I'm going to figure it all out."

Gwen rolled her eyes. "I think you two would make a cute couple."

"He has a girlfriend," Morgana confessed, sighing as she ran a hand through her long midnight tresses. "Granted she's in a coma, but still… The thing is, Gwen, …I don't want to think about how I feel about him." The faraway look in her eyes meant that she had drifted centuries back, to the time of knights, Camelot, and magic. "All I know is that I need him. I need him to remember… Then I can tell you. When Merlin finally remembers, I'll tell you."

Gwen blew out a breath, tension building in her stomach. "Alright."

However, she thought, the question remained. Would Merlin ever remember?


It was a quiet Friday night, Percival mused, and he assumed that was supposed to make it a rather fine evening. However, an unnatural tension had settled over the occupants in the apartment, and he wondered just what caused the it was because Gwaine was a little too sober or Lancelot was a little too impatient or Leon was just a tad too comfortable. Whatever the case, Percival knew that something was bound to break the silence—the feeling wormed its way under his skin, and he was awaiting the moment it would take him by surprise and crash over him.

Nevertheless, he pushed open the apartment door without a care in the world, depositing his gun and badge on the kitchen counter as he carried the pizza boxes over to the dining room table where Lancelot was sitting, computer in hand. He glanced up, eyes brightening at the prospect of the awaiting food, before typing a handful of notes into his document and standing up. He walked into the living room and placed his computer on the desk alongside the wall.

"You're late," was the only greeting Percival received from his friends, and it was one he wasn't expecting. Normally Lancelot engaged him in a polite conversation as prepared the dinner (regardless if it was take-out or not). To have his friend throw out such a dismissive statement caused the man to pause, raising his eyebrows in confusion.

"What's wrong?" he questioned but was promptly ignored as Lancelot crossed the room and gathered the pizza boxes in his arms.

"Good," Lancelot said, "You got enough. Arthur can complain all he wants, but I don't feel like running down the block for more."

Percival cocked his head slightly. "Arthur's coming over?"

"No," Leon said. "We're going over there."

"...And that's a bad thing?" Percvial continued, his question causing his roommates to stiffen. "Does anyone want to tell me the whole truth—?"

"And nothing but the truth so help me God?" Gwaine asked, quirking a smile as he pushed himself to his feet; the leather from the couch squelched with his movements. "Decided to bring the job home with you, didn't you?"

Percival cast the younger man a sharp glare before shaking his head. "Something tells me you're sober for once in your life."

"And how would you know?"

"You're actually trying to be stupid this time."

If Gwaine was phased by the remark, he certainly didn't show it. Instead, he choose to reach across the counter and grab Percival's gun and badge, tossing it his friend as he followed Lancelot and Leon out the door. "Keep 'em in the car," he called over his shoulder. "We may need them."

Percival huffed rather loudly before trailing after the trio, locking the apartment door behind him. "Will someone please tell me what's going on?"

"We're going to see Arthur," Lancelot said.

"...And?"

Gwaine shrugged. "Don't ask me. They won't tell me anything. 'It's a surprise, Gwaine,' they say. Well, screw that. I hate surprises."

"Only because you always ruin it," Leon commented over his shoulder, and Gwaine rolled his eyes.

"Oh, I see how it is," the younger man said, an emotion akin to amusement alit in his eyes. "Everyone's out to get me. You know, if Elyan was here, he'd be on my side."

The group sobered at the mention of their missing brother-in-arms, and Gwaine immediately lowered his gaze to the ground, unable to meet anyone's heartbroken expression. If there was one thing that they desired even more than Merlin regaining his memories of Camelot, it was the return of Sir Elyan, one of the original Knights of the Roundtable. Once they had met up with the ex-Queen, they had been well-prepared to welcome Elyan back into their ranks, but all hope disappeared when Gwen delivered the fate of their friend in this life. Elyan (Andy, as he was called now a days) had moved out to Los Angeles, California, soon after he turned eighteen a few years back. He maintained a distant but constant link with Gwen though, which inspired hope for the possibility of Elyan one day returning.

Percival cleared his throat as the four huddled inside an elevator, pizza boxes balanced between them. "Would anyone mind telling me—?"

"—and Gwaine—"

"—what's going on tonight?" Percival questioned, quirking an eyebrow at his friend's interjection.

Gwaine managed a smug smirk before elbowing Leon in the ribs. "We know something's going down, mate. Might as well tell us now because—" Gwaine leaned closer to the oldest of the four and licked his lips in a seductive manner. "—we all know how persuasive I can be."

"Yes," Lancelot retorted. "We learned so much from your failed hook-ups at the bar."

Gwaine scoffed. "Failed? I at least—"

"As much as I'd love to talk about Gwaine's nonexistant sex life, can we please get back on topic?" Percival asked. "I don't—"

"Arthur invited Merlin to hang out with us," Leon interjected. "So we're going over to play some poker, drink some beers, and try to convince a certain sorcerer that he's a wizard from a thousand years ago."

Gwaine's eyes widened as he choked on his own spit, his words tangled together as he attempted to form some sort of response. "W-What are we doing? You're fucking shitting me!" He threw his hands in exasperation as the elevator doors slid open and the four men stepped out. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"Arthur asked us not to," Leon said, flashing his friend a quick sip. "'S not like you'd argue, right? You've been wanting to see him for a while now. We all have."

Gwaine's breath caught in his throat. "Argue? Wish you'd given me more warning!"

Lancelot chuckled under his breath. "Please. You're only saying that because you want ample time to get enough beer in here to see Merlin drunk." The friends shook with laughter until the air sobered, reality washing over the group in waves.

"So what's the occasion?" Percival asked, raising an eyebrow in curiosity. "Does Merlin remember? Or is this just a way to help him get his memories back?" The group exchanged quiet looks, knowing that the question the ex-knight had posed at been at the forefront of all their minds since they received the invitation; it was a question that only Arthur had the answer to.

However, Lancelot sighed softly as he stepped outside, ruffling his dark hair with a pale hand. He rolled his shoulders as if trying to physically ease the burden of the situation off his back, but the tension remained in his stricken expression, etched in the lines of his face. "I've been talking to Arthur… and Gaius. They both said that Merlin doesn't remember?"

"You've been talking to Gaius?"

"You didn't tell us?"

"You talk?"

There was a beat of silence before Lancelot commented, "No shit, Sherlock." Maniac amusement overcame him as he shook his head. "You see, Merlin doesn't remember, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have the memories yet. He has flashes. Apparently, he's had them all his life… He's always had his memories… It's just a matter of accessing them that's the problem."

It was a short moment later that Lancelot hailed a taxi, and he and Leon climbed into the backseat with the pizzas, leaving Percival and Gwaine to fend for themselves as the vehicle took off down the street. Percival smiled grimly and turned to face his friend. "Looks like it's just you and me."

"Ah, no, don't think so," Gwaine said.

"Why not?"

"'Cause last time we went somewhere with just the two of us I died. No offense, but it's your turn this time!"

Percival sighed, checking to make sure his gun was in his holster. It was going to be a long night.